SIXTH DAY OF LENT:
MONDAY MARCH 6th 2017
STEP BY STEP
Today's tally is 12,321 steps, or a little over six miles on foot around the parish. Quite pleased with that.
Around 6,000 of those steps was spent in company of two others on a prayer walk around the north part of the parish - a route that took us down Hurst a few yards, then into Pheasant, across Norman and Thimblemill Brook, up Valentine, then right along Edmonds, a little way up Salop, left onto Eva and right into Beeches, left up Bristnall Hall, then up George and Sandfields, along Hill Top and finally down Pottery to Abbey and St Hilda's.
There were a couple of diversions. One was up some steep steps to look at the underground reservoir just above Bristnall Hall Road, where you could hear the sound of rushing water underneath giant manhole covers.
The second was a far more fruitful discovery. We were encouraged through a reading of Psalm 98 to look for signs of salvation as we walked... but especially to ask God to help us to see things we could not yet see. And so it was, behind a Tesco Extra store on the corner of Beeches and Bristnall Hall roads we saw a low slung municipal building we'd never before noticed.
It is the home of the borough-wide service offered by the Black Country Partnership NHS Foundation Trust Carers Team. In short, the eight staff offer support to 600 families who care for people aged 18 to 65 with mental health issues. We turned up out of the blue, the three of us from St Hilda's, and were given a warm welcome by one of the support workers who then went on to give us a guided tour of the site and explained some of the amazing work they do to help sustain and empower people carrying the burden of loving and caring for a relative.
We were 'seeing salvation'.
It was moving to hear of the passion of the staff and their commitment to educate, befriend and make a difference to the hard-pressed lives of hundreds of people.
And it was also so utterly depressing to hear that this vital service may yet face cutbacks.
Later on we prayed a version of the Lord's Prayer inspired by the Polynesian and Maori Christians who make up the Anglican church in New Zealand.
It talks of God as earth-maker, pain-bearer and life-giver.
As we walked the earth of Warley Woods, we met people who are both pain-bearers and life-givers: people who bring life to others while helping to bear their pain. This is the image of God seen in people following their vocation.
Here is the Lord's Prayer.
May it help you see salvation in your prayers.